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NGO fights corruption in unique note
Prathibha Parameswaran, CNN
April 20, 2007

Chennai: A Chennai based NGO Fifth Pillar has started a rather unique initiative against corruption.

It's called a zero rupee note – a note that vows to take on the babus who ask for a bribe.

Armed with the note they are not fighting aliens but a much more common evil – corruption.

Their weapon looks like a Rs 500 note, but they call it a zero rupee note.

The idea is whenever an official asks you for a bribe, just give him the zero rupee note and hope that he'll get the message.

It’s to help the corrupt officer understand the message there's even an oath that's printed on the note.

"When handed over to people who are corrupt, they anxiously get the rupee, then they're shocked and then they turn angry," said Fifth Pillar Vice-president Rathna Pandian.

"It'll create an impact over the people," said T Viswanath, a volunteer.

And their effort is to hand the note over to the common man – be it an auto driver or a bus passenger or just about anyone who doesn't want to pay a bribe.

Clearly the Mahatma would be proud to have his photograph on the note at least.

"One man applied for Electricity Board connection and after giving a bribe of Rs 1,500, he gave me a ring. Immediately we contacted the person," said Viswanath.

"After half an hour the gentleman called and thanked us and told us that the EB people went to his house half an hour later and completed all the procedures," he added.

In a country where corruption is a way of life, the zero rupee note still has a long way to go before it can make a difference. But at least it's beginning on the right note.

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